Halloween is a marvelous time to get kids thinking creatively and empathically. The interview games we love at Child’s Play NY inspired Halloween Hot Seat. Capitalize on the excitement they have to become another character and play this theater game that opens their imagination and empathy. This game even gives them practice with those critical Executive Function skills like turn-taking and working memory. Best of all the scaffolding of the “interview show” is a format that we adults can relate to: it provides just enough structure so that you can set it up and then walk away while the kids take over. Play with your family before you head out to Trick or Treat and keep it going past Halloween to creatively explore that dress-up drawer! Here’s how it works: 


Jocelyn Greene “interviews” a dinosaur in a Child’s Play NY acting class

Halloween Hot Seat: How to Play

Become a “talk show” host with your costumed kiddo as the guest. Give them entrance applause as they take their seat, and start with simple questions about how they’ve been or what they like, “What do your friends call you?” or “What’s your favorite meal these days?”. Get them thinking about their character’s back story with questions like: “When did you know you could cast webs, Spidey?” or “Dragon, tell us about the first time you flew.” 


Like in a real talk show, maybe their character is there to promote a special event, or show off their talents. “Cruella, I hear you have a new fashion line coming out, can you tell us about it?” Whatever the line of questions, let them be open-ended to give kids ample opportunity to imagine and speak. 


The premise of the “audience” can ironically have an emboldening effect and encourage funny improvisations. So, set up other family members on the sofa who can ask questions of the character as well. You can also just have some adoring stuffies watching the show! Encourage them to share special features of their outfit, their walk (or crawl or fly!),, or a catchphrase (“I am Groot!”). 

Ultimately, this can be very child-led, so once your kid knows the format, flip the script and let them host their own show. They can interview you, siblings, friends or even stuffies.  As they interview you (“What does Super Parent like to eat?”) in this playful context, they might even get to know you better!


Tips for Family Play

Set a timer for the interview so there’s a finite amount of time you play. Setting a limit to the play can be a really clear way to help you exit the game. Just make sure your kids are clear with that expectation of how many turns and then timer! “I will interview you, and you can interview me, and then I’m going to make dinner.” 

Photo by JDZ Photography


Preparation to Play

This game, like all Child’s Play in Action games, required very little set-up. Establish the space by putting out chairs for the host and interviewee. You can even give the host a small table or desk to sit behind. Lastly, you could have fun making your own microphone from found objects at home. Of course, the most important part of this is the costume, so make sure that’s in place before you begin!

Photo by Aubrey Hardwick


Playing your version of Carpool Karaoke in character to their favorite song (Encanto characters can sing along to “We don’t talk about Bruno”).


When you are done with a round of interviews (or the timer goes off if you are using that), you can go into a “commercial break.” Kids can make funny products their characters might want to buy! You can take this as an opportunity to get an actual break!

For kids who read and write, they can even prepare “cue-cards” of questions they want to ask their Halloween friends.


Play games in character during the interview.   For example, you could play a round of “Emotions Charades” or “What Are You Doing?” Or set up little bowls of tactile objects and play “Test Your Touch” while staying in character! Watch how to play below and subscribe to the Child’s Play in Action You Tube channel for more game inspiration!


Social-Emotional Learning Benefits: 

As the interviewer, you get to model active listening skills and empathy. When it is their turn to be the host of the show, kids will get practice, through play, those valuable skills which will in turn, help their social-emotional development even when they aren’t in costume! 

Furthermore, as their character, they get to reflect on the dimensionality of who they are. This reinforces the idea that people are complex. If the Wicked Witch of the West has a backstory, and a reason why she gets so mad, so too does that kid on the playground!


How this Boosts Creativity

This game is ultimately great for supporting imagination and future writing skills. When they are responding to questions in character, kids are practicing improvisational thinking. Through play, they are practicing idea-generating and getting validation from you, the parent, for experimentation and creativity. Like a writing teacher, you can encourage them to get specific with their answers and ask for details to make their stories more vivid. Likewise, as they come up with questions, they are being responsive at the moment, collaborating as a team to build on the ideas of what has come before.

Executive Function Skills at Work

According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, our prefrontal cortex is like the air traffic control system in the brain. A simple game like Halloween Hot Seat can support the growth of these skills.  As they interview, kids are actively engaging in their “wizard” brain: planning their next questions, practicing turn-taking, and holding onto the identity of the character they play, while inhibiting their own impulses to revert back to themselves. In kids, this is developing rapidly and it is crucial to help them filter distractions, prioritize, and set and achieve goals.


Let me know how you played this game with your family on Halloween or beyond. Learn more about what I do and be in touch for more customized playful parenting support.

Family Game
Photo by Aline Salloum